The Washington Capitals haven’t been themselves lately. They’ve been through a series of oddball line combinations, and their 0-3-0 California road trip surprised the rest of the NHL.
They will look to get back on track and return to their winning ways on home ice Tuesday, when they take on the Minnesota Wild, a team that has dropped three of their last five games. Both teams will be looking to rebound and hold onto their conference leads as they face off for the first time this season.
Minnesota Wild at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center- 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, FSN
2016-17 Season Series:
Feb. 11 – Capitals 4 Wild 3
Feb. 26 – Wild 2 Capitals 3
Washington Capitals – 43-13-7, 93 Points
Home Record: 26-5-1
Hot Players: Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams
Key Injuries: Andre Burakovsky
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Opik-Nate Schmidt
Minnesota Wild- 43-18-6, 92 Points
Away Record: 20-9-5
Hot Players: Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter
Key Injuries: Victory Bartley, Christian Folin, Martin Hanzal
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivo-Mikael Granlund
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Jordan Schroeder-Ryan White-Chris Stewart
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella-Matthew Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Nate Prosser
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Alex Ovechkin is in the biggest scoring drought of his career, and has gone 10 games without a goal. He is currently on pace for 33 goals, which would be his worst scoring season (excluding the lockout) since 2010-11, where he put up just 32 goals through 79 games. This doesn’t help the fact that Washington’s offense is struggling to find twine; the Capitals have only averaged 2.3 goals per game through their last 10 match-ups.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Eric Staal has been a key contributor for the Wild of late, and has six points in his last five games. The 32-year-old has three goals over his last two games, and is showing outstanding momentum on the second line with Nino Niederreiter and Charie Coyle. Staal will be looking to extend his point streak to three games Tuesday against Washington.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams seem to be finding their fire power to say the least, and have points in two consecutive games. Johansson scored his 100th career goal on Sunday against the Ducks, and the team will be looking at him to step up given their recent scoring woes.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Jason Zucker has seen a drop in his own production, and has scored in just one of his last six games. The 25-year-old has been playing on the top line alongside Koivu and Mikael Granlund, but hasn’t found much momentum over these last few games. He will have to step up if the Wild want to win this game against Washington.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap]Braden Holtby will start for Washington, despite his recent struggles. He has lost three straight games, allowing an average of four goals/game over that stretch. Devan Dubnyk will return to the net after being pulled against Chicago on Sunday, where he allowed two goals over a four-minute span.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.